Two-thirds of Australians with gout have uric acid concentrations above the recommended levels and may not be being treated adequately, according to a recent study.
Gout is a type of painful arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood. The uric acid deposits as sharp crystals in the joints, causing pain and swelling.
Seeing your doctor and getting your uric acid levels under control are important if you have gout, not just to prevent further attacks but to gradually dissolve away any tophi – the deposits of uric acid crystals that cause the pain.
The Australian study of 3 general practices showed that two-thirds of gout patients had uric acid levels (measured as urate) above the recommended level when they had a blood test.
High urate/uric acid levels can come from eating foods high in purines, excessive alcohol consumption, some medical conditions such as kidney disease, not being prescribed an adequate dose of anti-gout medicines or from taking other medicines that raise uric acid levels, such as diuretics.
Gout is an increasing problem in Australia with more than 1 in 20 men over 65 affected and nearly one in 50 of the general population.
The main goal of gout treatment is to lower the levels of uric acid to limit painful flare ups in joints, long term damage to joints and damage to the kidneys. This is done with medication and may be helped by following a gout diet.
Gout can cause significant pain, so make sure your uric acid levels are within the limits if you have gout.